Skip to main content

Full text of "Woodworking"

See other formats

How to Carve a Bird 


Make Projects 

build, hack, tweak, share, discover. 

How to Carve a Bird 

Written By: Steve Tomashek 



Rubber Finger (1) 
carving knife (1) 
sandpaper, 220 grit (1) 

3" x 1" x 1/2" piece of Basswood (1) 


There are carvers who have joined the ranks of the neurotic by trying to carve and then paint 
every feather on a bird. For me, the beauty of an object comes not from a literal reproduction 
but from the elegant ways in which complexity can be represented in simple forms. This 
project will help you realize this. 

© Make Projects 

Page 1 of 5 

How to Carve a Bird 

Step 1 — How to Carve a Bird 

• Most any wood will do in a pinch; 
you may even find branches that 
work. The best thing to do 
however, is get a piece of dry wood 
with straight grain and no knots; I 
recommend Basswood. Here I'm 
using a piece of Yellow Cedar. It 
should be cut to an approximate 
1 :2:6 ratio as shown. 

Step 2 

• First remove material from below 
the tail. Holding the wood firmly, 
brace your thumb and squeeze the 
knife into an edge. With each 
stroke of the knife shave off a little 
chip until you've whittled away the 
triangular-shaped chunk. 

• Be sure to protect your 
thumb with a Rubber Finger 
as shown. 


© Make Projects 

Page 2 of 5 

How to Carve a Bird 

Step 3 

• Do the same to the front: carve 
wood from the top and bottom of 
the block until the form comes to a 
point where the beak will be. As 
you are whittling it will become 
more difficult because you are 
cutting off the grain at a greater 

Step 4 

• Next you will remove the material 
from behind the head. Start by 
making a cut into the wood behind 
the head angled towards the tail. 
Follow this by shaving a piece from 
the tail towards this cut. This cut 
serves as the end point of the wood 
chips you remove and will keep 
you from cutting off parts of the 

© Make Projects 

Page 3 of 5 

How to Carve a Bird 

Step 5 

• From here on out the basic shape 
of the bird is established and you 
need only trim away the angularity 
and bring a smooth roundness to 
the form. Keep in mind the direction 
of the grain as you carve and 
notice the ease with which you can 
slice into the wood in relation to 
that direction. 

Step 6 

• As you come close to completion 
pay special attention to the beak; 
distinguish it from the rest of the 
bird. Take time to observe your 
progress and make small cuts so 
as not to remove too much 

© Make Projects 

Page 4 of 5 

How to Carve a Bird 

Step 7 

• You'll have to decide if you'd like to 
use sandpaper to smooth it, paint it 
in accordance with the pattern of a 
real bird and/or drill a hole in it to 
make it into an ornament. I decided 
to sand mine smooth, leave it 
unpainted but use a hot leather hole 
punch to burn in a rudimentary eye. 
It's mounted on a length of branch 
from an apple tree. 

If you'd like to carve other animals I have a book available with over 20 step-by-step projects for 
the beginner along with basic information. The book, Tiny Whittling , is available in stores and 
online. Ask for it at your favorite bookstore. 

This document was last generated on 2012-12-31 05:24:44 PM. 

© Make Projects 

Page 5 of 5